Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Video Game Did What?

Just last week I read an interesting article about a video game, but not just any ordinary video game.  By playing this game, players were able to build an accurate model of an enzyme.  Not just any enzyme--an enzyme the structure of which has puzzled scientists for 10 years! This enzyme, monomeric protease, is important because it is part of the family of diseases which includes HIV, and in order to understand the cause of diseases and create drugs to stop them, scientists need to understand the structure of the parts.

There are a couple of wonderful quotes in this article that I'd like to share with you. Firas Khatib, of the University of Washington's biochemistry lab said "the ingenuity of game players is a formidable force that, if properly directed, can be used to solve a wide range of scientific problems."

The last two are from one of the creators of this game, Seth Cooper. In regards to why gamers were able to solve the problem that computers could not, he said "people have spatial reasoning skills, something computers are not yet good at." He also said "games provide a framework for bringing together the strengths of computers and humans. The results in this week's paper show that gaming, science and computation can be combined to make advances that were not possible before."

The players solved the 'protein puzzle' in only 3 weeks. Ingenuity and spatial reasoning. It's amazing what video games can help with. While they are not the be-all and end-all of your child's education, maybe the next time your child wants to spend a little extra time with that video game you'll remember this story. Perhaps your child will grow up to solve and work towards curing diseases!

Want to find out what video games the library carries? Please click on the links below. We carry games for XBOX 360, Wii, and Playstation 3.

If you would like to read the article that I did, here it is.

Here is the link to the game.

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